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India vs England: Unbeaten Ben Duckett leads the tourists' resistance

India vs England: Unbeaten Ben Duckett leads the tourists' resistance

  • Written by Stefan Schimmelt
  • Rajkot's leading cricket writer

Image source, Getty Images

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Ben Duckett's 88-ball hundred was England's second-fastest opening knock in Test cricket

Third Test, Rajkot (second day of five):

India 445: Rohit 131, Jadeja 112, Sarfaraz 62; Wood 4-114

England 207-2: Ducket 133*

England's track of 238 points

Ben Duckett's scintillating century led a stunning England counter-attack on day two of the third Test against India in Rajkot.

The opener in his third Test smashed a hundred off just 88 balls in a reckless attack on the Indian bowling in the evening sun.

Duckett added 84 off 80 balls with Zak Crawley for the first wicket and then another 93 off 102 with Ollie Pope.

He was unbeaten on 133 off 118 balls in the final over, with 21 fours and two sixes. Duckett took England to 207-2 from just 35 overs, 238 behind India's 445.

England started the day by removing night-watchman Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, finally getting out for 112, inside the first five overs, but were then thwarted by a 79-run partnership between debutant Dhruv Gurel and Ravichandran Ashwin.

It was the start of an eventful day for Ashwin, who was the culprit when India were penalized five runs for a run on the pitch and then removed Crawley to become the ninth player to reach 500 Test wickets.

Even after getting through Ashwin and Gurriel, England were frustrated by the 30-run last-wicket stand between Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

Then came Duckett's fiery match, another thrilling chapter in a remarkable run in which the score was 1-1.

video caption,

India vs England: Mark Wood talks about Ben Duckett's brilliant 88-ball century against India

England baseball when they need it most

Realistically, England were staring at the match and perhaps the series at the end of India's innings. Never before have India been so beaten when they have made so many runs in the first innings of a home Test.

England missed chances on the first day and were unusually passive on the second. They removed Kuldeep and Jadeja in quick succession, and later did the same to Ashwin and Jurel, but between them they dropped Jurel twice, were strangely defensive in their pitches and seemed devoid of thoughts of wicket-taking.

The tourists also showed signs of emotion sparked by India's run on the field. Even Joe Root got frustrated with the Spidercam.

There was nothing defensive about the way England returned to the game, with Duckett tapping into the free spirit of the early days of the Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum era. Excluding the one-off Test against Ireland, this was England's fastest run rate in more than a year.

India were stunned, completely unable to contain Duckett, who made a huge difference in little more than a session of play.

England still has a lot to do. On a pitch that is expected to deteriorate, batting at the end will be a major challenge. A lead in the early stages would be incredibly valuable.

Duckett has been threatening to play a strike like this all series. In all the previous four innings he had reached 20, but never more than 47.

This was a memorable blitz, at one point threatening Gilbert Jessop's 122-year-old record for the fastest Test hundred in England. Surely it is only a matter of time before someone from the England team tops Jessop's 76 balls.

Duckett's trademark strikes have seen him score 360-degree goals. When there was a show, it cut off. If the ball is too full, he plays through the covers or onto the ground. He played his trademark sweeps over the spinners, with Kuldeep belting seven runs and Jadeja eight more.

The left-hander's half-century came off just 39 balls. Crawley's contribution for the opening stand was just 15 and after he edged a sweep to give Ashwin his historic wicket, Pope slid into Duckett's stream.

video caption,

India vs England: Ravichandran Ashwin muses on reaching 500 Test wickets

Duckett survived an lbw review on 79 when he was hit by a burning Bumrah yorker, then Siraj drove for four to complete the second-fastest hundred by England's opener in Tests off Crawley's 86 balls.

Duckett's celebrations were emotional, but that turned to disbelief when Pope was given a pound on review for Siraj for 39, with the ball showing it clipping the top of leg stump. It left Root to regain his composure on nine not out, although Duckett also survived an lbw review against Ashwin in the final over of the day.

England finally tamed the tail

India resumed the match on 326-5 and England were hoping to limit their total after Kuldeep beat James Anderson and Jadeja back to Root.

But wicket-keeper Gurriel looked confident and Ashwin was usually stubborn. England captain Stokes opted against his usual attack, while Mark Wood was asked to bowl a powerful spell from the bouncers on either side of lunch, to no avail.

It was during the eighth wicket partnership that the moment of controversy came. India received a warning on the first day of Jadeja taking to the field. When Ashwin repeated the offense, referee Joel Wilson intervened.

Leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed finally made the breakthrough. Ashwin reached the middle with 37 runs and Gurriel, who was dropped by both Pope and Stokes at 32 runs, made 46 runs.

England still had to endure Bumrah's batting of 26 before he was pinned in front to give Wood the fourth wicket.

The penalties meant England started their innings 5-0 up, not that Duckett needed to start.

“Neck and neck” – reaction

Indian spinner Ravinchandran Ashwin: “I would like to dedicate my 500th wicket to my father. He has been there through thick and thin.

“The game is close. They are putting us under pressure but it is important not to react to that pressure.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “One of the amazing days in Test cricket. Ben Duckett was a special innings player and was up there with Ollie Pope in the first Test.

“If England bat all day tomorrow, they will have a big chance.”

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “Great innings from Ben Duckett, he battled every bit of the initiatives India took.

“What a day but England still have more batting to do.”

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